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Care system in crisis

Delays to the discharge of NHS patients from hospitals have surged by more than 25 percent in the past 19 months, indicating that cuts to support for older people are infact driving up costs for the NHS, a report from the Independent states.

Figures show there were 71,449 delayed days in March 2012, a growth of 29 percent when compared to August 2010, when the collection of monthly data began. Of those delays, one third were patients awaiting further NHS care, while a quarter were waiting for a place in residential care.

The Government plans to publish a White Paper on social care soon in response to the Dilnot report, which last year called for investment of more than £1bn.Labour said the cost of delayed discharges had reached £600,000 a day, and a total of £324m since August 2010.

Liz Kendall, Labour's shadow Minister for Care and Older People, told the Independent: "The shocking increase in delayed discharges provides yet more evidence that the care system is in crisis. More than £1.3bn has been cut from olderpeople's social care since the Government came to power. But cutting vital services and support for older people is ending up costing us all more."